JOHANNESBURG, September 6 – A major resurgence in Boko Haram attacks and suicide bombings in Cameroon and Nigeria has left at least 381 civilians dead in the five months since the start of April 2017, with casualties more than double the previous five months, reports Amnesty International.
The rights organisation said the sharp rise in civilian deaths in the Far North region of Cameroon and the Nigerian states of Borno and Adamawa has been driven by the armed group’s increased use of suicide bombers – often using women and girls who are forced to carry explosives into crowded areas.
Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria have killed at least 223 civilians since April, though the real figure may be higher still as some attacks may have gone unreported. Between May and August, seven times’ more civilians were killed than in the preceding four months, while 100 civilians were killed in August alone, said Amnesty in a Tuesday communique.
The deadliest recent attack came on July 25, when the armed group shot dead 40 people and abducted three others in an ambush on an oil exploration team in the Magumeri area of Borno state.
Boko Haram suicide bombers have killed at least 81 people in Nigeria since April, while 67 people have been abducted – mostly women and girls.
In Cameroon, Boko Haram have killed at least 158 civilians since April – four times more than in the preceding five months. The recent spike in casualties has been driven by increased suicide attacks, with 30 – more than one per week – carried out since the beginning of April.
The deadliest attack took place in Waza on July 12, when 16 civilians were killed and at least 34 injured after a young girl was forced to carry and detonate a bomb in a crowded video game centre.
The town of Kolofata, in the Mayo-Sava district, has been especially targeted with nine attacks since April. Mora, the second largest urban centre in the Far North region, has also been hit three times.
Across the Lake Chad region, millions of civilians are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance as a result of Boko Haram violence.
Some 2.3 million people have been displaced across the region. This includes 1.6 million internally displaced people and refugees in Nigeria and 303,000 in Cameroon. Another 374,000 are displaced in Chad and Niger.
More than 7 million people across the region face serious food shortages, including 5 million in Nigeria and 1.5 million in Cameroon. There are 515,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition, more than 85 percent of them in Nigeria.